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Queen Guitar Rhapsodies

Preparing For My Concerts With Just One Day To Go

- What To Do When I Am Supposed To Know It All -
I write these words just twenty four hours from the first of four concerts in the space of four days. By the time I post these lines I will have played two of them, each with a different programme, one in Oxford as part of my Magical Mystery Guitar Tour, the other of Spanish and Latin-American music in the Wirral for the International Guitar Festival of Great Britain.

That sounds like a lot of music and it is, but I have already done all the practise I really need to do. I have played the same programmes or very similar ones on various occasions these past months. I have thrummed and strummed and plucked my guitar almost every day for the past six weeks. Is there anything I could usefully do now to get any better before tomorrow? Well, no, not by the way of more practise!

Photo: in the Williamson Art Gallery, Birkenhead, on Friday 16th November, just before my recital, admiring the gallery's neo-classical paintings. In the background is a painting by Jules Girardet, 1882, called "General Lescure, wounded, crossing the Loire at Saint-Florent, with his army in flight. 1793"

But there is something else I will do, and that is to get myself into as positive a frame of mind as possible. A happy and relaxed state is conducive to producing the best results for keeping at bay negative thoughts. On stage the struggle is between self-belief and self-doubt invariably competing for the upper hand during a performance. Here is an artistic twist to the fight or flee mode humans have inherited from thousands of previous generations, both human and pre-human, when faced with stressful or violent situations.

Now believe me, I don't want to be taken for an over-excited chimp who fights by standing his ground shrieking and making funny faces. Nor do I want to be like one of our feathered friends who panics and takes flight at any approach by members of other species. Mindful as I am of such extreme reactions five minutes before the show starts I intend to say to myself:
"I have done everything I know to prepare well for this event, there is no reason why I should not play my best."
I find it most calming in the moment before stepping onto the stage to look at myself in the mirror and say such a thing. And yes, I do talk to myself if you really want to know!

On a practical level I like to play through difficult passages quietly and slowly in the last hours. I also close my eyes and visualise myself playing through the pieces noting hazy areas which may be vulnerable, technically and memory-wise.

Apart from that, I trust to habit and routine. I arrive in the hall no later than two hours before the start, decide the lighting, try out the hall for sound only briefly, enjoy an apple-pie and cream sixty minutes before, and slowly change into costume with forty-five minutes to go while drinking a black coffee.

I am getting into a good mood already just thinking about it, now with rather less than twenty-four hours to go. No fight or flee for me, so roll over chimpanzee and sparrow, and welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to my calm and composed human persona, primed for action!

London, 14th November 2012

Printed from: http://www.carlosbonell.com/blog/?p=1749 .
© 2019.

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